The Latest: Vox leader says no to helping form government
MADRID – The Latest on the aftermath of Spain's general election (all times local):
The leader of the far-right Vox party that made huge gains in Spain's elections says he has no intention of helping incumbent Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez form a new government.
Santiago Abascal said Monday that the 3.6 million voters who gave the party 52 seats in the 350-seat parliament "voted for us to be in opposition" and the party is "going to vote against a Socialist government."
Vox previously held 24 seats. It is now Spain's third parliamentary force, behind the Socialists who won 120 seats and the center-right Popular Party, which garnered 88.
Abascal said the election "converted Vox into a dam of contention against (Catalan) separatism and the totalitarian legislation of the (Socialist) progressives who for the first time in a long while will have a firm opposition."
Hundreds of supporters of independence for the Spanish region of Catalonia have forced the closure of a major highway crossing the border with France.
The sit-down protest halted traffic along stretches of the road in southern France and northern Spain as demonstrators sat in the road, listened to music and ate food they had brought with them.
Police on each side of the border stayed at a distance.
France's Vinci Autoroutes said Monday that there were closures in both directions on the A9 since the morning.
The Catalan transportation authority said the blockade affected both sides of the AP7 highway at the major transportation hub of La Jonquera.
The issue of Catalan independence — Spain's most serious political issue in decades — loomed over the Spanish ballot and is expected to remain a dominant postelection topic.
Spain's Socialist party secretary José Ábalos says incumbent prime minister and Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez will sound out other party leaders over the coming days and seek to form a government as soon as possible.
Speaking after Sunday*s election, which saw the Socialist party win the most seats but fall way short of a majority, Ábalos said the party intends forming a "progressive government," and ruled out a coalition with the right, indicating they would instead seek support from other leftist groups and regional parties.
Earlier Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo told SER radio Sánchez would soon make a proposal to unblock the political situation.
Sánchez called the election after failing to garner enough parliamentary support from any major group to form a government following the last election in April.
Spanish media are reporting that Albert Rivera is resigning as leader of the Citizens party after its heavy electoral defeat.
The right-of-center party's support collapsed in Sunday's ballot, when it captured just 10 seats in parliament.
That was down from 57 seats in last April's election.
The party was due to make a statement later Monday.
Rivera had refused to help the Socialist party, which collected most votes seven months ago, form a government.
He also tried to copy some of the hard-line positions proposed by far-right party Vox.
Pedro Sánchez's Socialists again got most votes in Sunday's national ballot but fell far short of the majority it would need to form a government without other parties' support.
Protesters following a call to action by a secretive pro-Catalan independence group have closed off a major highway border pass between France and Spain.
The Catalan transportation authority says in a tweet that the blockade affects both sides of the AP7 highway at the major transportation hub of La Jonquera.
The action has been claimed by Tsunami Democratic, a group with anonymous leaders that has organized protests through encrypted messaging apps ever since a dozen Catalan separatist leaders were convicted last month for holding an independence referendum two years ago.
In an online statement, Tsunami Democratic says the protest aims to be "a call for the international community to make the Spanish state understand that the only way is to sit down and talk."
The protest comes a day after Spain's national election.
Spain's looks to set to face months more political uncertainty after the country's fourth elections in as many years further complicated an already messy political situation, giving no party a clear mandate to govern while the far right became a major parliamentary player for the first time in decades.
Incumbent Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez's Socialists won the most seats — 120 — but fell far short of a majority and will need to make deals on several fronts if they are to govern.
Sánchez called Sunday's election after he failed to gain enough support to form a government following the previous election in April.
In his victory speech, he promised again to "obtain a progressive government." His plans to do that may emerge when he meets his party(asterisk)s executive Monday.
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